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  MSNBC    Weekends With Alex Witt    News  News/Business. New.  

    January 19, 2013
    9:00 - 11:00am PST  

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with a degree in the field of healthcare or nursing from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to advance your career while making a difference in the lives of patients. let's get started at capella.edu. hello, everyone. it is high noon here on the east coast. 9:00 a.m. out west. what you are seeing right now is president obama literally putting his hands into action where he has put his words. it is a national day of service. it is something that the president took on four years ago over inauguration weekend, something very important to both me and the first lady, who you see on the other side of that cabinet the two of them are painting there. this is at the burrville elementary school. the president is joined by 500 other volunteers. part of the inauguration weekend festivities. this is something the president
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holds very near and dear to his heart. and the president hopes to make this really an event that will be associated for time to come with the inauguration weekend. again, this national day of service, the president there trying his hand with his wife at painting or varnishing -- i wish i were more handy. i am not. but anyway, the president there at the burrville elementary school. he plans to be there with his wife, also the girls, we understand, are there. good afternoon to all of you. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we're live here from the nation's capital. it is just the beginning of this historic weekend. the president's second inaugural. let's go to nbc's kristen welker who's joining me live from the white house with more on this. kristen, as we look at you and the president with his painting job, i know the white house is getting ready for this big weekend. but it is in the middle of this very important -- it's personally oriented, this day, for the president and his wife, isn't it? >> reporter: it really is not
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only because they were dedicated to doing something of this nature, but this inauguration will fall on martin luther king day. there's a lot of symbolism in that. president obama will be sworn in using one of martin luther king's bibles. this day is not expected to spark the huge, unprecedented crowds we saw in 2009. but it's not going to be small. hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out to kick off this historic weekend. as washington gears up for the nation's biggest party, people from all around the country are arriving, ready to celebrate. >> it's just one of those things i think you should do. and it's one of the things -- it's on my -- on the bucket list. >> we believe that he does hold the promise for the future and wanted to be part of it. so we came all the way from california. >> reporter: dress rehearsals commenced while crews fanned out
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across the city to put on the finishing touches, covering the mall to protect it from the big crowds. and getting the d.c. convention center in shape for monday's two inaugural balls, down from ten last time. still organizers say with as many as 40,000 expected, the night will be monumental. >> this inaugural is not just a celebration of the president but a celebration of the country and the country's people. >> reporter: 10-year-old miles brown will attend the children's concert tonight, a young boy who seems to understand the big event he's about to witness. >> this is a once-in-a-lifetime. so this is history. >> reporter: and security is paramount. helicopters and jets will enforce a 30-mile no-fly zone. and will be especially tight along the parade route which begins at the u.s. capitol and then travels down pennsylvania avenue passing iconic sights before ending at the white house. and the president is also getting ready. an administration official says
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he is finishing work on the inaugural address with key speechwriters. sources say it will touch on familiar themes, including the importance of finding common political ground, like he did in 2009. >> on this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. >> reporter: as the country awaits this year's message, the nation's capital is preparing to match the moment. now, since the constitution states that the president has to take the oath of office on january 20th, president obama will have that ceremony here in a private ceremony at the white house tomorrow. and then of course he will have his very public swearing-in on monday. alex? >> yes, he will. we'll have a public airing of you, kristen, and what you do behind the scenes there at the white house coming up in "office politics" in half an hour. are you ready for it? >> reporter: i am looking forward to it. i had so much fun. >> it was a lot of fun.
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no way we can make you look bad. we look forward to that. thank you, kristin. on the weekend before the president's second inaugural, a new set of polls from the nbc news -- "wall street journal" poll, right now, 52% of americans approve of the job the president is doing. 44% disapprove. t public is split on how president obama will fare in a second term with 51% saying they're optimistic or satisfied. a combined 48% say they are uncertainty or pessimistic. it's pretty darn close. as for congress, its job approval rating is 14% while an overwhelming 81% think congress is not doing a good job. wow. those are terrible numbers. joining me now, msnbc contributor, perry bacon, jr., and shirra tuplets. so glad to see the two of you. let's go first to the inauguration and the second term with you, perry. how long do you think the president has to get anything significant or do really tough
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lifting and use politics and all that to get something accomplished? we hear lame duck, all of that. >> he has the whole four years. but if you take from now until june 2014, once you get to next year, midway through, everyone in washington will be thinking about the congressional election. for now, the next 18 months, obama's going to drive the agenda here in washington. this is the best time for him to get through immigration reform, gun control. this is the time for him right now -- this next year particularly is when he has the most influence that he'll have. >> do you concur with that? if you do, what does that say about the last two years of eight years for a president in the white house? >> it says a lot over the last couple of years about campaigning and doing politics, which is normal for the modern presidency. i disagree a little bit with perry. i think the president has these first 100 days. beyond that, it's dependent upon the state of the economy. that's going to be a determinate
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factor. >> you say 18 months. you say 100 days. you're tough. >> 100 days, then we'll see. >> there's a new political article i want to go on. it says democratic senators in red states may break with the white house. part of the quote from the article reads as follows -- senior democratic senators and aides say the president must face a stark political reality even as he begins his second term as commander in chief. newly reelected and emboldened red state democrats as well as senators up for reelection in 2014 want and need to show independence from the white house. so if that's the case, how much does that affect the president's second-term agenda? >> it's a big challenge. take an issue like gun control. like joe manchin, he said he's opposed to the assault weapons ban and everything obama is doing on gun control. the president wants to get through immigration, gun
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control. he wants to raise taxes probably again. and the challenge on those issues is, those democrats are, the president doesn't have to run for reelection. but they're worried he'll drag their numbers down. >> what about the people going through the 2014 congressional elections, do they look to the president as being someone who will help them fund-raise? do they rely on him for that or do they move past because he's getting into that lame duck status? >> it totally depends on the member and what kind of house district they represent or the state. except for some extreme cases, democrats representing really red states or obviously republicans, usually when offered the help from the president, they say, yes. the money you get from it is really so good. it's the best find of fund-raiser you can have if you're in a tough race. we'll see if he's popular in a few years. if he's not popular coming up to the 2014 elections, i think
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we'll see a lot of members fund-raise with him maybe halfway across the country. >> we're going to change to debt ceiling now. white house leader eric cantor says the gop -- they're going to give them a three-month reprieve, they're going to temporarily approve a debt limit increase. the president said no negotiating on the debt limit ceiling. is this a victory for the president or do you see this as just a postponing of the inevitable standoff? >> it's both. it is a victory for the president, the republicans have been saying, we're not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we have every dollar of the debt ceiling goes to spending of that same amount. they've conceded they're going to extend the debt ceiling without any cuts. but that moves us to now where government funding expires on march 31th. at that point, we'll have a s w showdown in which republicans insist on spending cuts. there will still be some kind of fight.
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we will have a clock to some kind of catastrophic event that could happen, like we had in december. but it would not be with the debt ceiling. the republicans seem to have conceded to the obama. they're worried that obama has the stronger hand on that particular issue. >> what do you think the gop strategy is here, shirra? >> i think they realize that their caucus cannot handle another divisive fight. there are too many factions within the caucus. they don't want another public fight about it. so they're kicking the can down the road and hope things will be more in their favor by then. >> i spoke to some folks on the set this morning, one of whom said they think it's going to be kick the can down the road again, even after this three-month reprieve. do you agree with that? >> i think the debt ceiling thing is going to keep coming up over and over again because the republicans don't want to concede the whole issue to the president. at the same time, the president is so much more popular than
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congress, it is hard to have a one-on-one fight with someone who's so much more popular than you are. >> absolutely. i would not be surprised if we see kick the can down the road legislation repeatedly, not just with this but obviously with the continuing resolution to finance the government, that kind of stuff, it's all going to be three-month, six-month extensions. >> frustrating. but we're talking about it. very good to see you both. thank you for being here. let's go to the weather and the inaugural forecast calls for cool temperatures. even some snow perhaps in washington, d.c. but it won't be the coldest inauguration ever. our meteorologist is here with the forecast. hello. >> hi, alex. chilly temperatures will work into the d.c. area over the course of the weekend. right now, things are pretty standard. we're not seeing anything too hot or too cold over the country. most of the temps in the area are in the 30s. you can see the jet stream is going to drag down cold air from
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canada and it is going to extend all the way down south into the carolinas and out west is going to get in on some of the milder temperatures. as for snowfall today, we have blizzard warnings posted across portions of the dakotas. because of the snow on the ground getting blown around. that's going to create some lower visibilities. we have lighter snow across northeastern minnesota. that will start to work into western michigan later on today and tomorrow. and also some lighter snow showers across central and northern new england. for today, not too much going on. we are going to be in the 40s in washington, d.c., upper 40s. that will be pretty nice. 56 for a high today in kansas city. and an early look at your inauguration forecast on monday. it's actually going to cool down quite a bit. 34 degrees. mix of sun and clouds. not a lot of snow but we will see some flurries. winds should lighten up, about 5 to 10-mile-per-hour winds should help ease the windchill. but pretty chilly heading into monday. >> thank you for the heads-up.
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appreciate it. in strategy talk, making good on presidential promises. how the president performed in the past and what to expect from the next term. plus, the challenges for the secret service this inauguration, how they're making sure security will be tighter than ever. we'll be right back here on "weekends with alex witt." i gave birth to my daughter on may 18th, five days later, i had a massive heart attack. bayer aspirin was the first thing the emts gave me. now, i'm on a bayer aspirin regimen. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. [ woman ] learn from my story. before you begin an aspirin regimen. and they won't be beginners for long. give a couple beginners a great idea, they'll go to where they can get the skills, the savings, and the supplies they need -
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we are in washington today. you're looking at a live picture of capitol hill. it is also the last day of the annual mayors conference here. attorney general eric holder
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addressed the mayors on friday urging them to help in the push for stiffer gun control laws. >> although there's no single solution that can bring a decisive end to this senseless violence, it's incumbent upon each of us to try. and it's time to consider what steps we can take together to save lives. >> joining me now here in the studio, scott smith, mayor of mesa, arizona, who will be the next president of the mayors conference. mayor smith, thank you for joining me. >> thanks for having me. >> let's talk about guns. you are from a so-called red state there in arizona. >> so-called? >> you know. >> it is red. >> let's take a look at the graphics here that shows how things go, in terms of essentially red state -- blue state divide across this country with our gun laws. arizona among the places that wants to loosen laws. so you know what's coming here, in the light of newtown, do you think that your state is wrong
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on that front? >> that's the problem with this. who's right and who's wrong. we're talking about a basic constitutional right. there's a lot of differences of opinion as to at what point do you start to infringe upon that right? i think that's the difficulty of this debate is that everybody's right and everybody's wrong, depending on how you look at it. there's no doubt that newtown, if not changing the discussion, it certainly focused the discussion. it was the topic at the mayors conference because the mayors are so obsessed with public safety. but there's definitely reasonable differences as to how we best approach that. >> but here you are representing mesa, which is close to tucson, and you think in the wake of the gabi giffords shooting two years ago this month, you'd think that arizona might be super, super sensitive to that? >> we are super sensitive to the fact. but i think what we're sensitive to in arizona is the fact that the discussion seems to be only about guns or if it isn't only about guns, things like mental
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health almost are an afterthought or a postscript. when you look at the situations, the horrible tragedies in tucson, aurora, virginia tech and now newtown, there are two common denominators. certainly guns were involved but mental health issues were also involved. >> don't you think in the wake of newtown -- i've heard a lot more about mental health now, also about background checks. do you think getting lost in this discussion is people's full understanding of what's on the table? we're talking about trying to re-enact an assault weapons ban. it's not about rifles for hunters. it's not about a personally held gun to keep in your home for fear of a burglary or intruder and protecting your livelihood, your property and your family. it's about assault weapons ban. is there anybody out there in this country who's nonmilitary, non-police s.w.a.t. that needs to own one of those? >> i think that the discussion really isn't about who needs to
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own it. and that's where i think things get lost. i talk to a lot of people who are just passionate about guns. they don't want to talk about assault rifles because they don't care about those. >> you hear people who are proponents of gun advocacy -- those who say, we need to have everything taken away. most everybody agrees on assault weapons. >> if you can define what an assault weapon is. i'm not trying to for or against. i think the discussion needs to be expanded to say, let's look at the whole caused of this. you have some weapons that are just as deadly lly as assault weapons. >> didn't we have ten years, though, of an assault weapons ban which worked -- i don't feel like there was a slippery slope there. >> if you look at the assault ban, if you look at the background checks, i think we're moving towards some kind of compromise, towards some kind of action.
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we just haven't totally fleshed that out. but i think we need to understand that people are passionate about constitutional rights. and i know that the tragedies are horrific and everyone feels that. any group that sees the first amendment rights, the second amendment rights, choice rights, all those things involve constitutional right and people get passionate about that. >> i want to ask you quickly about what happened in williamsburg. you had the house gop constituents all there together, all the leaders of the house. they decide, we're going to give a three-month reprieve to dealing with the debt ceiling, we're going to temporarily extend this limit. what do you think happened there and are you in favor -- what do you think was the ideology behind that? >> i think the ideology was ideology. i think within the republican party and within congress, it seems like the issues are not the issues anymore. the fight is the issue. i think republicans have understood that in this environment, hopefully that, like mayors do, we look at solving problems. and right now, the environment is just not good to have that
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kind of discussion. we saw it with the fiscal cliff discussion. we saw when you get to last-second discussions, good decisions aren't made and really nobody wins in those because then you have to sort out what happened. i think the republicans are saying, listen, let's have a cooling-off period, let's figure out how we want to approach this. let's work on solutions. that's what mayors do all day long. we work on solutions. we get frustrated when the ideology becomes the bigger issue than solving these problems. we'd love -- if this reprieve results in congress being able to actually take action at some time other than 11:59, we'll be happy because the certainty of decision has more impact on the economies of our cities and on us than decisions that are made. business and people adjust to decisions, good decisions and bad decisions. what they can't adjust to is uncertainty. if that reprieve gives us a little bit more time to get a good decision and congress maybe can change how they do business, we're all for it. >> you make a good point. mesa, arizona, mayor scott
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smith, thank you for being with us. >> thank you very much. office politics, nbc's kristen welker tells me about her favorite souvenir from aboard air force one. yep, she took one. [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+.
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some combinations were just meant to be. tomato soup from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. and there you are checking out the first lady and the president doing their part on this national day of service just a few moments ago. we saw the president painting that shelf at the burrville elementary school in washington. i'd like to see what it looks like when it's all done. more on the president's second-term agenda. a bit earlier i spoke with jesse jackson. he told me about the big issue he'd like the president to address in his inaugural speech on monday. >> before these big fights on fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, the poverty the expanding.
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50 million americans are in poverty. 20 million unemployed. and racial disparity keeps growing, plus this impact of violence. those issues must be confronted in the second go-round. >> joining me now is angela rye, outgoing director of the congressional black caucus. welcome, angela. >> thank you. >> we're listening to jesse jackson. do you think the point that he brought up means that the president has or has not adequately addressed the issue of poverty over the last four years? >> i think he's had a tough haul. when the congress changed a couple of years ago, you have a situation where folks are not willing to work with him. we saw the rise of the tea party and folks who just were not willing to cooperate. the president has done a lot of really good work, put forth a lot of good proposals, including the american jobs act, for one, which was not even considered. in fact, the congressional black caucus had nine proposals and recommendations which were all included in that jobs act.
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and it wouldn't even get to the house floor. >> yeah. let's look at some numbers, then we can analyze these together. the national unemployment rate is 7.8%. but if you break it down racially, for white americans, it is 6.4%. for african-americans, 13.7%. is there something that the president and our lawmakers can do to address that discrepancy? >> sure. starting with the american jobs act, there are a number of different proposals, everything from infrastructure to health care i.t. there are a number of folks who can be trained or already have specialized training and we just need to create opportunities. one thing that we certainly need to address in the imminent future is the debt ceiling. we can't afford to do anything to rock the boat of our economy any other way. it's just time for us to really move. >> you're close to congress. how can the president work to pass this american jobs act through a gop-controlled congress? >> i don't know. i think that it's time to put
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politics aside. i know it sounds funny when you talk about capitol hill. but we really are in a situation where the thing that is green should be ruling. we have to get on the same page it's not about red or blue or politics. it really is about what's best for the american economy at this point. >> it doesn't sound funny at all because you hear it all the time. if you look at the statistics and the numbers of people who think congress is doing a good job, you might think they'd paid a little bit more attention to what you're saying. what about the congressional black caucus in terms of their analysis of the president's first term? are you happy and satisfied with the work he's done? >> i think the members of congress that i was just working for are very happy with the way in which they were able to partner with the president on solutions that really matter. i think when it comes to congress overall, there's a lot more work that has to be done. i think that they also will hope that the second term will provide a whole lot more opportunity to address things that really matter, like jobs, like education, immigration reform is not something that's
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just championed by the congressional hispanic caucus. at this point, with the democratic caucus numbers, the minority in the democratic caucus now in the house are white males. so you have a rainbow coalition inside the house. and folks want to see an agenda that looks and reflects the face of america. >> if you look at the amount of time the president has, there's probably one or two of these big issues you bring up that are possible to tackle. which one do you think he should do first? >> i guess gun control. he's already started with the executive actions, just recently taken. of course he needs congress' support on the assault ban. he also needs to immediately address immigration reform. >> angela rye, we'll see if he listens to you. thank you very much. next up, senior adviser for the presidential inaugural committee, ben labolt, tells us what to expect from the president's speech. wears off. [ female announcer ] stop searching and start repairing. eucerin professional repair moisturizes while actually repairing very dry skin.
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d.c. well, in washington, a year of planning security for the inauguration is coming down to its final moments. the security service is promising security will and won't see, a major command center is set up in an undisclosed washington suburb and thousands of officers and national guard troops are arriving right now from across the country. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams is joining me now. pete, good to see you, my friend. >> nice to be here. >> what is the difference between now and 2009? do you see significant difference in security? >> largely in crowd control because they're expecting about a third as many people to attend the inaugural here as were here four years ago when there were roughly 2 million people here. about 600,000 expected this time. give you a little metric. about 3,000 charter buses parked at rfk stadium four years ago. that's the approved parking space, people get off and walk to the capitol. this year, about 1,100 buses have made reservations. that gives you an idea of the
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relative size. that's going to be the biggest thing. there were five bridges that were completely shut down to regular traffic into washington four years ago. they're all open this year. that's one difference. a second difference is the planners say you'll see a lot more signs, people telling you where to go. they're going to use social media a lot more to try to direct people. so that, i would say, is the biggest difference. >> but there's still the parade route. and they're going through places that anyone would do anything were it not for the extensive preparation. >> that's right. in terms of the actual security that the security service lays down, that, you won't see any change in, other than the fact there will be more metal detectors just to move people in and out a little faster. but in terms of that area, that pathway from the capitol to the white house, the secret service's goal is to make that quadrant has safe as inside the white house. it means metal detectors and scrutiny for all the people that line the parade route, hundreds
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and hundreds of federal agents with eyes on people, watching their hands, watching the windows and buildings to see if there's anything out of the ordinary. snipers on rooftops, things you don't see, detectors that sense toxins in the air. there's a whole standoff group who are ready with antidotes for chemical or biological weapons who could quickly come in and try to get people de-contaminated. every bad thing that you can think could happen has gamed out. and there are people standing by ready to do that. >> it's wonderful to hear, frankly. pete williams, thank you so much. >> my pleasure. joining me now for an inside look at the inaugural festivities is ben labolt, former national press secretary for president obama's reelection campaign. ben, nice to see you again. >> nice to be with you this afternoon, alex. >> so let's talk about the president's address. what do you know about it? are there any big surprises? >> i don't want to get too far
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ahead in his remarks. but i will say i think he's going to follow precedent of most inaugural speeches and take the occasion to mark where we are as a nation, the challenges that we face and to lay out a vision for where we go over the next four years. in terms of the specific policy agenda and how we achieve that policy agenda, i think we'll have to wait a few weeks for the state of the union address for that. i think this will be a broader vision and talking about how some of our founding principles could inform where we are today and where we're headed. >> i love the theme of the inauguration, ben. it's "our people, our future." can you explain that? >> i think the president has continually been impressed by the grit and resilience and determination he's seen from the american people over the past four years, since we've really faced historic challenges. this isn't just a tribute to the president and the presidency. it's a celebration of our nation. it's not just taking place here in washington, d.c. it's taking place in states across the country. and so, for example, the
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national day of service, which the president established four years ago and he hopes other presidents will follow at their inaugurals, people in all 50 states today are giving back to their communities as part of the inaugural activities. >> thomas jefferson famously said in his first inaugural address, we are all republicans, we are all federalists. is the president going to make an overture to bipartisanship as president jefferson did in this deeply divided time for our nation? >> well, i certainly think that the president will talk about the common challenges that we face and the need to take them on together regardless of political party. that's been a common theme of his remarks for the past four years and dating back to the 2008 campaign. there's a window for bipartisan movement on so many issues right now -- comprehensive immigration reform, reducing the deficit in a balanced way. the american people voted for
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both parties to work together on those issues. that's certainly something the president is seeking to do. >> so, ben, i'm curious, preparations for monday, are they all done at this point and when do you start planning for this? i'm guessing you have to do it even before the election is done, right? >> that's true, there are many officials, particularly at those security officials and congressional officials who put the events on the mall together, prepare the security, the logistics, they've been working for over a year, regardless of who's going to be the next president. in terms of this committee that's put together the program, that's taken a couple of months to put together. it's not all done yet, we're pretty much ready to go. but two more days of work and we'll be there. >> i'm sure it will all be ready to go by monday. ben, i have to ask you. what is going on behind you and good on you for still talking over that? >> well, i think you can hear the performers appealing to all demographics.
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this one appeals to the ben labolt generation, people of my generations. you'll see all kinds of performers throughout the weekend. and behind me, we've got different service stations if you want to give back to your community. you can give back to veterans and military families. you can give back to schools. you can participate in economic development for underserved activities. that's going on here in washington. that's going on across the country today. >> okay. ben, thank you for taking the time away from all those service activities and all the fun there going on behind you. get back to having a good time. >> thanks, appreciate it. have president obama's accomplishments outweighed the goals that he perhaps did not reach? that's next. is joe woods' first day of work. and his new boss told him two things -- cook what you love, and save your money. joe doesn't know it yet, but he'll work his way up from busser to waiter to chef before opening a restaurant specializing in fish and game from the great northwest. he'll start investing early, he'll find some good people to help guide him,
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in today's "office politics," my conversation with nbc white house correspondent kristen welker. kristen shares some of the reasons why her job is among the most challenging in the business, plus why she says george clooney is an inspiration. but first i asked her to describe what it's like to work across the table from the president. >> this is a unique beat to cover. it's unlike anything else. it's all about making sources. understanding what's going on, not just nationally, as you point out, but internationally as well. this is one of the most memorable moments that i've had here at this white house. this was during the payroll tax cut fight. and the president called a number of reporters into his -- into the roosevelt room to discuss his views and what he was willing to negotiate on, what he was not willing to negotiate on. and we're basically asking him a number of questions. this was about a year ago. it was right before christmas break last year. if you remember, congress, the white house had that big
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knockdown, drag-out fight. >> you can see the decorations. >> that's right. and when you're sitting in a setting that's that intimate with the president, it's certainly an incredible experience. this was when i covered the first lady in south africa. this was the first and only one-on-one interview that i've done with her. it was very exciting. she was there really -- with her two daughters, to do outreach to south africa and also sort of to bridge the gap, i think, between the united states, between africa. it's one of the things that we might see president obama build upon in this second term. we might see a trip to africa that involves the president this year. but this was exciting. and it was also a rush and intimidating. i was very new to this beat. >> can i ask you about getting ready? you're up at all hours into the night, in the early morning.
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>> it was one of my greatest challenges of this job. it always has been. i'm not a natural makeup girl. so it has taken me about a decade to learn how to apply my makeup. if there's breaking news, i know i can do my makeup in about seven minutes if i need to. >> that's a valuable skill, definitely. good for you. and good on you because that's way better than i can do, let me tell you. how do you prepare for packing? seriously, you've got to have your coordinated outfits. you've never not looked totally coordinated. >> thank you. >> the jewelry, the shoes, the jacket, everything. >> have you ever seen the movie "up in the air" where he becomes a master packer? i have become a master packer. >> george clooney? >> i am george clooney. i have figured out how to roll up my pants, by dresses that don't wrinkle, buy tops that don't wrinkle and fit a lot of stuff into a small suitcase. >> you travel on air force one
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sometimes, right? >> i just had my -- really my first trip on air force one. and i have to say that's one of those moments that you pinch yourself and say, wow, this is pretty amazing. and sometimes the president will come back and talk to the press corps. he didn't on this particular trip. but his top aides did. jay carney, eric schultz came back, talked to us for a few minutes. but one of the most memorable things about traveling on air force one is bo, the president brings bo with him. so bo is constantly running through the aisles. and the press corps sits right in front of the kitchen. so bo really enjoys going to the kitchen. he's spent a lot of time kind of coming back through our pathway and traveling to the kitchen. >> did you take anything off of air force one? are there little mementos you can take? >> i took one memento off air force one, tobasco sauce.
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it has the presidential seal and i didn't take the napkins because the napkins get dirty. so i thought, this is something i can take. it will be preserved and my parents will enjoy it. >> pretty nice gift for her parents there. next week, nbc's chris matthews will join us for "office politics" with a look at the history of second-term presidencies and where president obama's legacy may fall in that category. san francisco mayor willie brown joins me in our next hour to talk about gun violence and whether the president's new plan will work. this is "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if we took the already great sentra apart and completely reimagined it with best-in-class combined mpg and more interior room than corolla and civic and a technology suite with bluetooth, navigation, and other handy stuff? yeah, that would be cool. introducing the all-new nissan sentra. it's our most innovative sentra ever. nissan. innovation that excites. now get a $169 per month lease on a new nissan sentra,
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loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. >> in today's strategy talk, presidential promises. on monday, the president will deliver his second inaugural address when he's going to lay out his second-term agenda. how far has the nation come since the president last spoke on the capitol step es and where do we have to go from here? joining me now is michael steele, former chairman of the rnc and karen finney, former dnc communications director. so glad to have you both here, right in front of me, reaching distance here. >> that's right. >> michael, i want to talk with you about some of the key moments here, benchmarks of the last four years. we have median income is down, federal debt is up, americans on foot stamps, that number is up. unemployment has pretty much leveled off. it's flat. the dow has nearly doubled. we are out of iraq. troop levels are up in afghanistan, though coming home
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sooner than we had expected. when you look at all this putting to, big picture, are we better off than we were four years ago? >> we are in certain aspects, yes, with respect to those who have certain types of investment income tied to the dow, they've seen those types of increases. but i think in the main, it's a mixed bag, to be honest about it. i think the economic indices that you laid out there really kind of underscore the work that still has to be done. the president came in, did not talk about jobs out of the box, did not push that as a main agenda item, which would have had an effect on a lot of those other pieces, whether it's the poverty rate, unemployment rate, et cetera. but instead did health care. so you got the health care checked off. stop using the economy freefall as an excuse for not getting the job done. karen, when the poverty rate goes up under your watch, you've
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got to account for that. you can't put that on george bush and say, well, the economy was in free fall. four years later with an unemployment rate still -- >> but where would those rates be had the president not taken -- >> we don't know that -- >> it's an important marker in terms of what -- >> it's the mixed bag. >> we were in crisis when he first came into office. had to deal with the crisis. >> we still are. >> many of us believe that dealing with the economy and dealing with health care, those are to things that are important in terms of getting our economy -- >> if i'm in jobs or health care, give me jobs before i deal with health care. >> the economic free fall that you address, is that the reason why the president did not achieve all of the goals that he set out there? >> no. i actually think -- the president has accomplished a great deal. i think he has done so in the face of tremendous unprecedented opposition, not only in the way that republicans in the house and senate -- we all know the story, they got together for
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dinner and said, we're going to make him a one-term president. not all of the obstructionists and all that. but also this whole other level of rhetoric designed to delegitimize this president and trying to undermine his authority. we're hearing -- >> still has nothing to do with your agenda. the united states senate is almost 1,600 days without a budget. >> but that being said -- >> but, here we go. >> but the government is still functioning, isn't it? >> you call this functioning? >> it's your guys who are holding things up, michael. >> you want government to operate by continuing resolution, you want the government to operate without a budget -- we put a budget on the table. where's yours? we put two budgets on the table. >> may i also ask you about the american jobs act? some of the gop have said they don't want to participate on this. but you were just saying among the things you need to get done, jobs, jobs, jobs. >> and a lot of ideas in the american jobs act were from
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republicans and now they oppose it. >> this gets to the rest of the story. when you're looking at going into the second term. both sides right now have, i think, an important opportunity to move forward. i don't appreciate the idea of kicking the can down the road, to use that overused term again, on the deficit, on spending, on dealing with the economic fundamentals that need to be addressed. both the president, i think as an opportunity in two moments, his speech on monday and the state of the union the following week, to lay out the vision, yes, but also the key issues that he's willing to take on and that he's going to look at the republicans and say, are you with me? and then it becomes incumbent on my party to say, yes or no. >> michael, here's what i don't like about that. that is a rhetorical set-up of the president because the president's been very consistent for the last several years about what he wanted to do. he put a lot on the table. and boehner could not get the republicans in congress to come to the table. >> he put some things on the table because -- how much has is
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he prepared to really take on spending? medicare and medicaid, what is his plan, what's the strategy there? >> a lot of this stuff was on the table. your guys walked away. >> you didn't put anything on the table in that area? that's a rhetorical set-up for the republicans where they fall into the same old trap -- >> where's the plan? the president put a plan on the table. >> what was the plan on social security? articulate his plan that he walked away from. you beat up paul ryan's budget because what it did in trying to address, begin the conversation on social security and medicare. you ripped him a new one on that and yet the president still hasn't put anything on the table. so where is your -- >> most americans oppose it. >> karen -- this is the problem. we get the, oh, you guys have a bad plan. but we don't have that one. >> that's not true. >> you have a bad budget but we don't have one.
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you want to cut spending but you don't want to raise taxes. we've raised taxes now. where's your spending cuts? >> the president's signed $2.4 trillion of spending cuts already implemented over the -- >> cuts that are already slated to go for previous budget. it's the old washington trick. >> you're going to say the budget control act the president signed last -- >> this is where we are. and we ask ourselves will something get done in the next six, eight months? no. >> this is where we are. >> just made my job easily. i was just listening. >> one more thing to the table the president has done as a woman and democrat, i am very glad that we had president obama and democrats in place to try to stop the tide of some of the most restrictive anti-woman measures that i think i've ever seen in my lifetime over the course of the last four years. it is a huge accomplishment for women. the fact that women have -- >> at the federal level? >> federal and state level where democrats have been fighting. unfortunately at the state
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level, we haven't been as successful. fighting back on the kinds of measures, though, that we've seen at the federal level, i'm glad we were there to do it. >> you've got two women right here. i'd be careful where you go. >> i'm just saying, you're saying the president -- you're talking about what the president did. i agree with you. where republicans have been on those issues has just been boneheaded and stupid. but don't sit there and make out like president obama was -- >> started with the lily ledbetter pay act. >> we're going to -- time-out. we have to take a commercial break. karen, michael, as always, thanks. i love the red and the blue. that was coordinated. very clever. next up, the 10-year-old who wrote to president obama about gun violence. he was at this week's presidential announcement on gun control. i'm going to ask him what it was like to meet the president. treatment as prilosec otc.
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in less than 48 hours, americans will gather in front of the capitol to usher in president obama's second term in the white house. and throughout this hour, we're going to look ahead to the president's ambitious hope es and daunting challenges as he sets forth on a new four-year journey. live from washington, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." it's a bit past 1:00 p.m. here in the east. 10:00 a.m. out west. the final preparations are under way for the inauguration for the president's second term. the president will take the oath of office sunday in an intimate white house ceremony witnessed by family. then on monday, the oath at the capitol in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands. also new today, the president reiterating his call for new gun control measures in his weekly address. >> ask your member of congress if they support universal background checks and renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines. and if the answer is no, ask
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them why not? ask them why an "a" grade from the gun lobby is more important than keeping kids safe in a first-grade classroom? >> a dramatic and surprise announcement by the gop. republican congressman eric cantor says next week the house will authorize a three-month temporary debt limit increase, avoiding a deadline supposed to hit as early as mid february. first lady michelle obama has announced a new campaign organizati organization. >> if we want to finish what we started and truly make that change we believe in, we can't stop now. and that's why today i'm proud that our friends and supporters are launching organizing for action. >> several members of president obama's political team will be a part of organizing for action, that includes senior adviser david plouffe and jim macina.
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joining me is patricia murphy and white house reporter for "the washington post "the washington post "the washington post "the washington post," david nakamura. republicans say they are going to vote to lift the debt limit for three more months. what's the gop calculation here? >> the calculation here is that this is not a fight, that the gop is going to win. and how do they know that? they tried it once before. the house gop spent the last congress trying to block the president at nearly every turn and also trying to force his hand on the debt ceiling limit. and that is a fight that they lost, we saw the nbc/"wall street journal" poll this past week. showed house republicans so horribly damaged. 24% approval rating. only 6% of the people in that poll had a very positive view of the house gop. so they have looked back to see how that fight went with them. in the past, they lost it and they damaged themselves in the process. now they spent the last week convincing their members, do something else. let's change our tactics.
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we're going to see more fights in the future but it won't be about the debt limit. >> david, i'm curious about the reaction from the white house to this. was it completely inexpected? what are you hearing? >> the white house had an interesting reaction. number one, they're happy obviously that this is temporarily, at least for a few more months, not going to be an issue, not going to be a big crisis at the end of february. that's number one. number two, they see it that they stare down the gop in this case and won. the president continued to say he was not going to negotiate over the debt limit. now he doesn't have to. there are some interesting wrinkles to what the gop is wanting to do, which is try to force a budget through senate. and now it's shifting some of the burden onto democrats to show that they're taking action on a responsible budget. the president said, i want to come forward, i'll be part of discussions over spending. this is going to be the time to do that. there's a few more fights ahead. the white house had a short statement which was interesting. they said they're glad the gop won't continue to hold the economy hostage. got a little dig in there. it will give the president to do
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more on gun control and immigration. >> patricia, let's move to the inauguration itself. as we look ahead to the president's second term, what diagne his biggest challenge will be? >> i think his biggest challenge this year is going to be his biggest challenge last year and the year before. i think it's going to be congress. obviously the house gop badly in disarray but still wanting to stop him. they still have the majority in the house. anything he wants to do, he's going to have to get it through the house. anything big. so you see his big, big agenda items, gun control, immigration reform, that is going to be so tough to get through a republican house. then you go over to the senate side, that is a relatively conservative democratic senate. they have members up for reelection in red states in alaska, arkansas, louisiana. those are not senators who are going to green light a big liberal agenda. so i think the president is going to have to figure out what he wants to get done. he's going to have to narrow it down, though, because this is not a congress that's going to green light the big agenda that he wants to get through. >> and i guess a question to you, david, is how does the
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president who had the democratic majorities to get through the big health care legislation, to get all that passed which he does not have now, he just has the senate in his corner. how does that change the tactics to get anything pushed through? >> depends on the issue. the president went big on gun control. that's going to be a tough fight. the president didn't want to back down because all the things might not pass, the assault weapons ban. i've been talking to immigration folks. they think that could be different. they say republicans need to expand their electorate. they look at what happened with last year's fiscal cliff as getting a bipartisan agreement on immigration in the senate, then going to the house. gives them cover. there's a lot of people in the republican and conservative movement who want to get something done on immigration. that's an area where they see it as a way to get things through. gun control is going to be harder. >> you think gun control and immigration are the big ticket items? >> yes, more on the financial side. but immigration will be another big platform here. >> patricia, how much time do you think the president really
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has to get something passed? you always hear about a lame duck presidency. some have suggested he's got 18 months to two years, others even saying he's got like 100 days. then we look and reassess to see how much more time he has. >> he definitely has no more than 18 months. and i mean 18 months to et g-20 it passed. he's going to spend the first 100 days trying to roll this out so aggressively. and he's already really made his move to go toward voters. he's trying to bypass congress right now, telling voters, contact members of congress. he's trying to build up his momentum. but once the 18-month mark hits, the reporters in washington are going to start talking about the next election. once that shift happens, he's not going to have any more leverage. >> like june of next year, you concur with that? >> i do. year and a half to two years max. that's why he's going to move hard on some of these issues. >> good to see you both. thank you so much for joining us. here in washington, some familiar faces are joining the
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first family on this national day of service. just a few moments ago, former first daughter chelsea clinton was coloring with some children at an event that she will headline on the national mall. but chelsea isn't the only celebrity volunteering her time to go. we're going to the national mall where star jones, legal analyst and co-host of nbc's "today's" professionals is taking a break from her busy day. star, thank you for heading over to the camera. tell us what you're doing today? >> i'm so happy to be able to join you and your viewers. i just came off the stage, as you mentioned, here at the national day of service on the national mall. speaking about heart health. i'm here as the national volunteer for the american heart association as national spokesperson for the national association of professional women. it allows me to use this public platform to advocate for heart health and to invest other people in their own heart health. as the go red for women movement
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moves forward, as you can see when i go red, i really go red. >> you do. >> we really are trying to encourage women to take control of their own health. it's imperative that we make our women's health the front-burner issue. i'm very glad that this president, especially this first lady, has really made getting involved movement, eating correctly and fighting obesity one of her real major platforms. and so you know that that is really my purpose in life, to really fight for heart health. >> tell me all the folks that are there gathered behind you -- i'm sure you've talked with them. what is their motivation for coming out and do you think this energy will be sustained? >> oh, absolutely. this is the nice part about the first family and the vice president's family. that they put a day of service to kick off the inaugural services. they did that the last time in
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2009. and then they carried the tradition through again. what it does is encourages each one of us throughout the country, not just here in washington, but to make service a part of our lives every single day. so we're supposed to go back to our own communities and put things in place. the suggestion that i made is just something simple. the american heart association recommends that you get 30 minutes of exercise a day. so instead of gossiping with your girlfriend on the phone, 30 minutes of walking around your neighborhood with your girlfriend will get you your 30 minutes of exercise. it will reduce the instances of heart disease. and that's something you can easily organize in your own community. and so there are 100 organizations who, like the american heart association, are here with suggestions on how we can invest in our own communities. and that's why i serve. figure out where your passion is and that's why you should serve. >> yeah. well, star jones, you're inspirational with your words and your actions.
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and also that outfit, girlfriend, let me tell you, i'm loving the faux fur, it's very in. >> go red. >> star jones, thank you so much. have a great time today. thanks for your time. i want to remind all of you to watch coverage of president obama's official swearing-in tomorrow morning at 11:55 eastern. right after that, it will be "weekends with alex witt." and then watch msnbc all day for coverage of the public inauguration ceremony on monday. coming up next, former san francisco mayor willie brown on president obama's second term and his reaction to some new polls. that's next here on "weekends with alex witt." ♪ [ male announcer ] how do you make 70,000 trades a second... ♪ reach one customer at a time? ♪
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excitement is building here in washington as the president is set to make history for the second time tomorrow. the stakes were high four years ago when he took the oath of office. as he goes into a second term, he has even more to live up to. joining me is willie brown, former mayor of san francisco. mayor brown, so nice to have you on the show again. as i welcome you, i'd like to have you give us your assessment of the president's first term. did the results live up to the expectations? >> i don't think you can ever live up to the full expectations from the first term. simply because he was getting to know us and we were getting to know him. members of the house got dumped when republicans took over. he lost his leverage with that huge democratic majority. so, no, he did not achieve everything he desired to achieve. but he clearly achieved enough because the voters gave him a resounding victory for reelection. and that's the best measurement of whether or not he achieved what he needed to achieve.
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>> you make a very good point there. since 2009 when the president passed health care reform, his signature achievement thus far, legislation in washington has been pretty much stalled. what kind of political finessing does president obama have to do the next couple of years to get around the gop? >> i think that by his numbers on reelection, clearly evidence that the country wishes to follow him. he has got to consistently make that case with the republicans. he's been successful so far in doing that. there's not been a rejection of any of his prospective nominees. there's been all kinds of pushbacks but not a rejection. he clearly is on a roll and probably for the next 24 months, he will continue to be on a roll. he'll only begin to hit a bump when it becomes clear that he is truly a lame duck. >> let's take a look at where
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americans stand on the president's next four years. the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll found that 51% of americans are optimistic about the president's next four years. 48% are pessimistic. these numbers mimic the election results pretty closely. how do you interpret those numbers? >> exactly the way the voters did last november. when they voted for barack obama to the tune of about 54%. and they rejected obama to the tune of about 47% or 48%. that's purely unadulterated normal. those people are never going to be barack obama supporters. he's going to constantly have a majority. the question, though, is can he translate that majority in every congressional district which he won if he uses that awesome machinery that got him the election to support his programs and to convince members of congress to support his programs. he will do just fine.
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>> i want to talk about gun control. as you know, attorney general holder, he spoke before the conference of mayors yesterday. told them to use their influence to force congress' hand to pass legislation. but americans are pretty split along party lines on any kind of legislation. if all politics are local, sir, how do you convince locals that represents their constituents, those elected to congress by their local citizens, to get on board and back the president with his gun control legislation? >> in reality, i think the president is doing exactly what he should do in terms of how he is addressing that issue. he has taken the issue unto himself through the executive powers for certain things. then he has said the remainder of these ought to be done by the congress. and i think he will use the awesome power of reelecting barack obama to try, as best he can, to mobilize the american
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people to support his advocacy, dianne feinstein's measure on assault weapons ban and some of the other things that will require legislation. i think it's going to be counterproductive for the republicans to object to the rational things that ought to be done. at all times, even representing your constituency, sometimes in a representative democracy, you have to do what you think is right, whether or not it's consistent or inconsistent with your constituency. after all, you've been elected because you're supposed to have greater knowledge, greater access. you've listened to the arguments and you believe the public will be better served by the decision you make. that's what you do. that's what he's hoping members of congress will do on this occasion. >> before we let you go, sir, i want to get your take on some local or state politics there in the golden state. your governor, jerry brown, is
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projecting an $851 million surplice as a result of increased tax revenues, also some spending cuts. should washington adopt california's deficit reduction approach? tell us what you did and if you think that could work nationally. >> what jerry brown did was he rolled the political capital. he simply said to his democrats and to the republicans, this is what's in the best interest of the public. and the public in california bought that. he caused many democrats on the other side of the aisle to be really angry because a lot of what he did were cuts. he caused republicans, however, to be angry because he increased revenue. that's what washington needs to do. and i think barack obama is prepared to do that. >> all right. former san francisco mayor willie brown, i have to tell you, in the commercial break, my floor director said he was a big fan of yours because you're a commonsense guy. i couldn't agree more. >> thank you very much. coming up next, teajah's
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plea to the president. >> i am very sad about the children who lost their lives in connecticut. so i thought i would write to you to stop gun violence. >> he's one of four children that wrote to the president about gun violence and visited the white house. he joins us in just a moment to talk about his experience. give a couple beginners a great idea, and they won't be beginners for long. they'll go to where they can get the skills, the savings, and the supplies they need - to go from beginning... to doing... to beautifully done. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. right now this ashland vanity is a special buy at just two hundred, ninety-nine dollars. call (star star)thd to shop now.
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we love to see that, what made you decide to write a letter to the president on gun violence? >> you never know when somebody's getting ready to strike with a gun and you don't want to lose your life over one small thing or tiny thing like a bullet. >> if only we could all think about what you're saying. it's the absolute truth. what was it like to meet the president, taejah? >> i'm sorry, what did you say? >> what was it like to meet the president? >> it was really exciting. i almost screamed. it was really very, very exciting. >> i'll bet. mom, did you have to held him back from screaming? >> just a little bit. just a little bit. but he held it and we were ready. >> how did you feel, kimberly, when you found out the president had read your son's letter and wanted you to come to the white house to be part of this ceremony? what goes through your mind? >> at first i didn't believe that it was true. and i had to get myself together
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and think, oh, wow, we did send the letter. and i was happy to know that he did read it. and here we are. >> yeah, absolutely. so, taejah, talk about what you think the president said and if you think he's going to be able to make good on that promise he made to you. >> i think he said very, very good job for the four people who were standing back there to explain that they wanted to stop gun violence. people don't explain -- they just want it to stop gun violence. and the four people explained to stop gun violence, to get it through congress. they felt really terrible. and they wanted to stop gun violence. >> yeah. taejah, i understand you are a straight "a" student. an experience like this, do you
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think about your future and maybe becoming involved in politics or activism? >> yes. >> yes? like what kind of politics? do you have big dreams? >> yes. i want to be a minister of music. i want to be a president someday. >> okay. well, listen, good on you. i'm glad you announced right here. we know it now. day. >> carson: goode one day will be running for president. and i think we're going to support you because you're showing a lot of gumption and a lot of initiative at the young age of 10. taejah, thank you for your time. thank you for writing that letter to the president. y i know you speak on behalf of a lot of kids in this country. and kimberly graves, job well done as a mom. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. in just a moment, america's mayors tackle a growing problem that could take decades or more to solve. you're watching "weekends with alex witt" live from the nation's capital. [ male announcer ] ahh... retirement. sit back, relax,
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welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." i'm coming to you from washington this weekend as we get set for president obama's inauguration. but developing right now in the algerian hostage standoff, state tv says this brand-new video shows the weapons seized from al qaeda-linked captors just hours ago. officials stormed a remote gas facility hoping to free the remaining captives, some of which are americans. state tv says the assault killed 11 militants and seven hostages. but it is too early to say whether any other captives or militants survived. as soon as we get more information, particularly on the fate of two americans who are still being held, we'll let you know. a year-long effort to secure washington, d.c. ahead of the inauguration will be put to the test tomorrow. a major command center is set up in an undisclosed washington suburb and thousands of national guard troops and law enforcement officers are arriving from across the country. it all begins tomorrow and certainly extends major league through monday.
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nbc's justice correspondent pete williams is joining me now with more about this. so with a welcome back to you, pete, with all these people, thousands upon thousands expected to attend the inauguration, do security officials give you an indication of what their biggest challenge? >> well, i think it's the same as always, which is to look for the unexpected. they have to basically make sure that nobody gets near the president with anything dangerous. and that is always a huge chore when you have as many people as this. you said thousands and thousands of people. there will be thousands and thousands of security officials, too. there will be national guardspeople from 25 states, hundreds of federal agents, thousands of police from washington, d.c. and from maryland and virginia who all come in to help out with this inaugural. so it's a huge chore, no less so this year than last year, even though the overall size of the crowd will be smaller this year, perhaps just about a third as many as last time. it's a smaller crowd control issue but it's just as
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challenging a security environment. they tell us they know of no credible threats against the inaugural. but they're always evaluating by the hour tips and threats that continue to pour in. it's a constant cycle that goes on until the inauguration is done. >> you're talking about not only a lone wolf but actually a major terrorist attack. you were talking about things that can detect the presence of any sort of chemical in the air. it's not like just metal detectors and snipers on rooftops. >> no. you showed that command center. it's outside of washington. the reason it's outside of washington is in case something catastrophic did happen downtown that would potentially disable the regular command centers that are in use by the secret service, the fbi, the police, so that there's a standoff place that could take over if it had to. >> can you get an idea how much money is being spent on this? >> probably about $120 million to secure the event. that's separate and apart from
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the cost of the inauguration itself. it's a very expensive proposition. >> you don't want anything happening. >> absolutely. >> pete williams, thank you so much. we have some new video of president obama as well as the first lady on this first day of service in washington, d.c. we got a look at them a little bit earlier volunteering at a local elementary school houd. after painting some shelves, they addressed the crowd in the school auditorium. >> as i look around the room, i see friends from all across the country, people who have been such great supporters of ours, but more importantly, everybody here, adults to children, understand the importance of giving back. and as we think about not so much inauguration, but we think about the fact that this is dr. king's birthday that we're going to be celebrating this weekend, i'm always reminded that he said
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everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major, but if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people. >> watch coverage of president obama's official swearing-in tomorrow morning at 11:55 eastern here on msnbc. and then watch msnbc for all day coverage of the public inauguration ceremony on monday. today is the final day of the u.s. conference of mayors winter meeting. nearly 300 city leaders from around the country gathered in the nation's capital where the big issues have been gun control and climate change. joining me now, minneapolis mayor, also vice chair of the dnc. nice to see you. thanks for joining us. >> good to be back, alex. >> when we look at the huge issue of climate change, are individual cities capable of making a real difference? >> absolutely.
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our city has for 11 years been acting on climate issues. it's everything from dramatically changing the fleets that we have to looking at water strategy. there's no single one thing that you do. but it's, i think, really about saying that, look it's not an accident that there's no snow in minneapolis aretha there are huge climate issues going on around the world. we have to act. and i think mayors at a local level are doing that all over the country and we have for a long time. >> what about taking the lead on a national level? what kind of policies and reforms are we talking about that you think should be put into effect? >> well, i think one of the most important things is that we know that fossil fuels are a huge part of this issue. and so moving forward on a transportation agenda that continues to do what we're doing in minneapolis, building a light rail and hopefully building a streetcar. building communities where you can spend more time walking than stuck in your car. those are huge pieces of this issue. so is the issue of alternative
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energy. and in the whole budget negotiations at the end of the year, one of the seemingly small issues was the fact that credits for wind industry, which is a huge industry in minnesota and wisconsin and other places. those will continue. had that not happened, those industries that are just now really emerging would have shut down. >> like everything else, though, climate change is unfortunately painted as a partisan issue. what kind of a consensus are you hearing from those 300 other mayors that were gathering in that room with you? >> frankly, it's not a controversial issue with america's mayors. most of us have been working on this issue for a long, long time. and this is often pitched as being a controversial issue because about 4 billion scientists say it is and about 1 say it isn't. the vast majority of people, and certainly the mainstream of science is not having the question whether there is a climate change and whether there's a climate crisis. there is. the real debate that we have is which of the multiple actions
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that we're taking is the most important. i think we need to get over this idea that because there's one person on the extreme fringe who says one issue doesn't mean that something's controversial. >> so you say noncontroversial issue there relative to climate change. can you say the same about gun control, based on the news from that meeting? >> well, we spend a lot of time talking not necessarily about gun control but reducing gun violence. there's a big difference. the point of it is that mayors in cities have seen a lot. i have seen way, way, way too many funerals. i've been at street corners with dead children looking at parents. i've performed eulogies for people i've never met. when you talk to mayors about this, it's very different than when you talk to congress. here it's customary to take a bill through six subcommittees. i can't say that to a mom whose kid is dead or to a community that's had a mass shooting. we're doing a number of commonsense things. we support universal background
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checks. the president's package was tremendous. and we had -- this is kind of a breaking piece of news. but we had a revolution. we're all up lobbying on capitol hill and found out the real people fighting us are those who manufacture gun and ammunition. we thought, we're mayors, we buy a lot of guns and ammo. so last night, we got 65 mayors on board to all go back to our communities. we're going to find out how much gun and ammunition we bought, from whom. we're going to get that information together. we're going to then score score each of these gun and ammunition dealers on how well they are doing in supporting the president's plan. if they're not supporting the plan, we'll figure out ways to move our purchasing to our places. i don't want the taxpayers in minneapolis to be paying for those incredibly over-the-top comments from the nra's executive or those ads, for god's sake. i don't want my taxpayers paying for that inadvertently through
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buying guns and ammo. so we're going to try to bring a little sunlight into that purchasing. 65 cities on board already. and that, i think, will have a big impact. >> that is a great new gun initiative. i'm very glad you're promoting that. sounds like good common sense. we'll be following and let's see what comes of that. good luck. >> thanks, alex. >> thank you for joining us. next up with the big three, what can president obama accomplish in the next four years in spite of the heated political tug of war in washington? we'll take a look here on "weekends with alex witt." [ man ] visa prepaid opened a new world for me. ♪ i have direct deposit on my visa prepaid. my paycheck is loaded right on my card. automatic. i am not going downtown standing in line to cash it. i know where my money is, because it is in my pocket. i got more time with my daughter,
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percio, and deputy managing editor for politico rachel smolkin. susan, you're all by yourself? >> i know. i miss you, alex. >> anyway, i'm going to reach out to rachel first. tell me what you see briefly as being the priorities of this administration the second time around. >> we already have a crowded second-term agenda for the president. we've seen him come forward very quickly on guns with his big announcement last week. that's where it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out not just with the republicans but with his own parties, the democrats. some democrats on the left, eager to push the gun issue. some centrists among them, senator harry reid, the senate majority leader, really not that eager to get involved with this. and we'll see if the comprehensive bill ever comes to a floor vote. >> let's talk about things that did get passed. the president was able to pass health care legislation at a time when he had both houses of congress in his corner. he does not have that now.
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how does he go about skirting the gop-run house to get something passed? >> i don't think he can skirt. he's going to have to deal with them, engage with them. i would take an issue with my colleague on the gun thing. the president wants to -- his legacy is going to be based upon jobs. if he's going to be a greater president, it's about creating jobs. this gun thing, he didn't look for this issue, it came to him. that's what you do as a great president, you have to seize the moment of the day. that's what he's doing on guns. i think the democrats and republicans will come with him. but at the end of the day, barack obama will be a great president if he turns this economy around. >> susan, you as a republican, the gop is often accused of being obstructionists. do you see clear areas of agreement? immigration reform, gun reform, debt reduction, jobs? do you see areas where something can get done? >> i do. but i'd like to go back to what morris said. i completely agree, it's going to be about the economy. and it's going to be about the economy for republicans as well.
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and, yes, so they have to be able to agree on some things there. the most likely thing they'll be able to pass is immigration reform. the president's in a weird situation right now on immigration reform. he has the republicans that want to help him. on gun control, he has to play to the democrats who may hurt him on it. so it will be an interesting first 100 days, if you will. but it's the job numbers that are going to matter at the end of the day. >> let's move on to our second title, history's calling. the president has won a second term. the health care program is now going to be rolled out within this second term. morris, is this going to be akin to social security and medicare? >> i think so. it's going to be a situation like when richard nixon was vilified and history judged him fairly over time. similarly with bill clinton. presidents take on big issues that are not popular of the day but history judges them better. i think this will be one of those things that people will say, wow, that was a visionary
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thing to do. it wasn't popular at the time, but it was a visionary thing to do. i think history will judge him fairly. >> what do you think, though, on jobs that the president could do that would be equal to health care reform? >> i have a big idea. you've heard me talk about obama 2.0. it's all about energy. it's not about drill, baby, drill. it's about natural gas, shale oil -- these are opportunities to transform america. lots of jobs and things we need. we would be less dependent on foreign oil. i think he's going to embrace it. he's already done it, already given the approval that we can export to folks where we have free trade agreements. that's a home run for him. >> rachel, what are you seeing as being a big ticket piece of legislation the president can get passed and have be part of his enduring legacy? >> immigration reform, i think, has the best chance to get some bipartisan support and become a piece of his legacy. >> susan was saying that. >> we've talked about jobs and how important that is. that's a little bit more --
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there are lots of external factors that come into play there, unlike the gun debate, immigration is one where there may be some consensus that can be reached. we saw public soul-searching in the republican party right after the election. if they can they can sustain any momentum on that issue there's a chance we can see some agreement in that area. i think they'll fumble on immigration. they want immigration the way they want it? >> do you think lessons were learned in this election? >> republicans learning lessons? >> hey, now, morris. >> you're my favorite republican, but republicans learning lessons is like saying you're a genius when you win the lottery. they don't learn lessons. >> yes, we do. and actually, we'll be bet going forward. this is like a cycle right now and guns will be an excellent example for the democrats. >> but you know, susan. the tenor of what morris is saying is sort of reflective of this obstructionist mentality or
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obstructionist approach that a lot of people are putting on to the republicans. i mean, how do you think history will view the republicans when it comes to eight years? do you think they'll be seen as obstructionist to the commander in chief? >> i don't know what will happen during the next four. so if they do change, if they do come to some serious compromise, if the economy turns around it will be with both sides working together. they pass with immigration reform, it will be a bipartisan effort. even if they pass some sort of assault weapon ban which is going to be necessary. people want it. they should pass it and that again will happen with bipartisan support, but today the republicans have been pigeonholed? no. they haven't put anything up. >> susan, i think you should be leader shcht republican party because i think we could get something done. >> this is the problem with this republican party right now.
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they want to say no to everything, and hurt the economy and ultimately they cave in. it makes no sense. >> last word, susan. >> when it comes to the economy and the debt ceiling being they have fumbled the ball, but they're right to ask for spending decreases in spending. >> two different things. >> and they've backed themselves into a corner with sequestration and the debt ceiling. it doesn't make sense the way they handled it because they're politicians and they don't want to say i'm for cutting x, y and z. >> they're americans first. >> i agree. >> and they do have -- but the republicans already took the tax increases. they agreed to the tax ines krooes. the democrats have not put nor the president have put on deficit reduction on the table and that's what needs to happen so we can all move forward. the republicans stepped up and did tax increases and it's time for the democrats to step up and do deficit reduction. >> i have to wrap it there. we'll take a break because we want to come back and get the worst and the best of the week. stay with us. [ coughs ]
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we are back to the big three. for the best or worst week, we're bringing in the panel, susan del percio. >> morris, you're up first. >> the best, transition of power. for losers how can you have gun control after columbine, aurora, it makes no sense. >> chris christie is the winner of the week for taking the nra to task for their despicable ad using the president's children and christie stepped up to the plate and called it which was the right thing to do. congress, nbc/wall street journal poll, 14% approval rates. yikes. >> that's a yieks and an ouch. >> i like chris christie for runner-up and i'll give winner to president obama. it is his inauguration. i think we're seeing a much more comfortable president obama and someone able to use the tool at his disposal for his office.
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he's won twice, and i thought you saw a more assertive president obama in his remarks this week. >> okay, that's best and then worst. lance armstrong. >> i'm definitely going with lance armstrong. someone who made washington look good, both democrats and republicans if only by comparison to lance armstrong. i didn't. i didn't, oh, wait, yes, i did. >> susan, and all of the whip in new york, and good to see you all. thank you so much. >> that is a wrap of this "weekends with alex witt" edition and i'll see you back here tomorrow at 12:30 eastern after chuck todd's coverage of the private swearing in. we'll see you tomorrow. i tuned it all out. with unitedhealthcare, i get information that matters... my individual health profile. not random statistics. they even reward me for addressing my health risks. so i'm doing fine...
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